Fowler holds 54-hole lead at Memorial - COPIED

By Associated PressJune 6, 2010, 5:42 am

2007 The Memorial Tournament

DUBLIN, Ohio – Tom Lehman didn’t spend much time with John Wooden—just long enough to learn a few things that will last a lifetime.

Lehman was the Ryder Cup captain in 2006 when he met the former UCLA coach who died at the age of 99 on Friday.

Lehman came away humbled—and with a close friend.

“He was the ultimate teacher,” Lehman said Saturday after playing in the third round of the Memorial Tournament. “What little time I spent with him, it was obvious how much he loved the people that he taught, that he worked with. Our world is going to miss him.”

Lehman was the Ryder Cup captain. During a stop in February at Riviera, he arranged to meet with Wooden at his home.

“It was definitely one of the highlights in my life,” said Lehman, who won the 1996 British Open.

There was one crystalline point that the Wizard of Westwood conveyed to him.

“He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Don’t be concerned about your image and your reputation. That’s who people think you are. The only thing that matters is your character, who you really are on the inside. Focus on that. Be more concerned about that,”’ the legendary coach said. “That’s the one thing I took from him. Because that’s the way he was. You talk about integrity, doing what you say you’re going to do, being who you really are. That was him. A man of incredible integrity and character.”

That was their only face-to-face meeting, although they spoke on the telephone a couple of times.

Lehman hated to impose on a man who would not have thought it an imposition.

“I feel like I didn’t want to take his time, even though I know that if I called him he would have said come on over,” Lehman said. “There’s so many people that he gave to, so many more people that he was way more involved with than me. I didn’t want to be one of those guys who just demanded his time. I was really, really impressed with that man.”

POPULAR PAIRING: Huge crowds followed the third-round grouping of Tiger Woods, Ricky Barnes and Dustin Johnson.

Barnes, of course, torched the Muirfield Village course for eight birdies and an eagle in a blistering 10-under 62 that left him tied for second, three shots back of leader Rickie Fowler. Johnson, another one of the top young players on tour, shot a 73.

Woods, playing in his first tournament after three weeks off due to a neck injury, followed a 72 with his second straight 3-under 69.

There were plenty of highlights and lowlights for the world’s No. 1-ranked player. So good was Barnes that Woods never had honors on the tee until the 13th hole.

He had five birdies to energize the many people shouting encouragement along the ropes, but also had a disastrous double-bogey 6 at the 10th. He sailed his drive far, far right—perhaps 50 yards right of the fairway—and into the backyard pond of a house that usually doesn’t enter into play.

Woods disgustedly flipped his driver after the shot and muttered under his breath. He quickly teed it up again and hit a provisional, then didn’t even walk over to where his first drive went because he knew it was out of bounds. Lying three in the middle of the fairway, he hit onto the green and two-putted from 55 feet.

He birdied the next two holes and two more after that.

Woods had eight pars on the front side, breaking up the monotony with an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth.

He was walking toward the hole at No. 1 when his ball was headed for the cup, then stopped as it dipped in and out of the hole. He had birdie putts inside 15 feet on four straight holes starting at No. 3 and missed them all.

After his round, he declined to speak with reporters.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Vijay Singh, asked if he ate a lot on a day when there were two suspensions of play totaling 6 hours: “I don’t eat that much. I need to keep my figure, you know.”

TIGER TAUNTS: For the most part, the fans have been almost worshipful in their treatment of Tiger Woods, in spite of his highly publicized marital indiscretions.

But there were a couple of minor incidents during the third round.

After Tiger putted for birdie on the 14th hole, a spectator twice yelled, “Get in the water!” as the ball rolled toward the hole. The putt missed and Woods tapped in for par. The man quickly blended into the gallery.

Another fan yelled, “Big swing, Tiger. Big swinger. You’re the biggest swinger on tour,” as Woods walked to the seventh tee. A Dublin police officer walked over to where the man was standing and asked him to calm down.

Woods never looked the man’s way.

After completing his round, Woods signed his scorecard and then walked stone faced past a line of autograph-seekers.

“He’s a changed man,” a man said caustically—and loudly.

LONG DAY: Play was initially supposed to begin at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, but just before the first golfers could tee off it was pushed back by a line of thunderstorms. The delay eventually lasted 4 hours, 15 minutes. Later in the day, more rain and inclement weather stopped the proceedings for 1 hour, 44 minutes.

That meant that the last groups played in a deepening twilight.

“It’s been a long day for sure. I’m looking forward to turning in, relaxing, having some dinner,” said Justin Rose, who shot a 70 and was alone in fourth place, four shots back of Fowler. “It’s 20 to 9. I can’t remember the last time I played golf at 20 to 9 in the evening.”

DIVOTS: It was the fifth time Barnes (62) and Woods (69) have played together. Barnes has posted the lower score only twice, but overall is seven shots better. … Past champions Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk are tied for sixth, seven shots back. … Play has been suspended six times in the first three rounds, a record for the perennially weather-plagued tournament. … Phil Mickelson shot a 70 and then also declined to speak with reporters. … Seven of the top 11 players are in their 20s. … Furyk had six consecutive subpar rounds at the Memorial before shooting a 72. … Brendon de Jonge’s 65 was his lowest score on tour this season. … Argentina’s Andres Romero had a triple-bogey 8 at the 15th in the second round. A day later, he had an eagle 3 there.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.